Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder on Thursday morning, but should recover well before spring training starts in February, according to Washington general manager Mike Rizzo.
Zimmerman fought through shoulder pain all year, spending one stint on the 15-day disabled list and receiving four different cortisone injections. The procedure was performed by Dr. Wiemi Douoguih, the team’s medical director, to end the pain and inflammation in Zimmerman’s right AC joint, where the collarbone meets the shoulder blade. Bone spurs are a symptom of arthritis in the joint and a loss of cartilage can lead to bone rubbing together and creating more inflammation.
Zimmerman, 28, can begin his offseason conditioning program in six weeks, according to Rizzo. He recovered from his time on the disabled list in late April and early May to have a fine season anyway with a .282 batting average, 25 home runs and 95 RBI in 145 games. Zimmerman finished with an .824 OPS – below his two best seasons in 2009 (.889) and 2010 (.898), but still the third-highest mark of his career.
Zimmerman previously had surgery after the 2008 season to repair a partial tear of the labrum in his left shoulder. He played in just 106 games that season, missing eight weeks to rehab the injury before having the surgery to fix it afterwards. Zimmerman also had surgery in 2011 to repair an abdominal muscle tear. He missed nine weeks that season and played in a career-low 101 games.
The cortisone shots in 2012 eventually worked – but not right away. The first one in April didn’t take and the second one – combined with time on the disabled list – appeared of limited use as Zimmerman struggled to a .218 batting average on June 23.
In the 25 days before his third shot Zimmerman hit just one home run and a double and his power was noticeably compromised. But that shot on June 24 in Baltimore changed his season. Zimmerman immediately caught fire, was named National League player of the week on July 23 and was a finalist for player of the month. He had a 1.186 OPS in July and had a productive August (.832 OPS) and September (.897), too. In the playoff series against St. Louis he was 8-for-21 (.381) with a double and two homers.
After the shot – in 90 games total – Zimmerman produced a slash line of .321 (batting average), .383 (on-base percentage), .584 (slugging percentage), .967 (OPS). He had 22 homers, 73 RBI, 26 doubles and a triple. He walked 37 times and struck out 74. Over a little more than a half-season, that’s as good a stretch as Zimmerman’s had in his career. The hope is Thursday’s surgery allows him to put up similar numbers over a full season in 2013.
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